If you knew that there was a chance—maybe even a good chance—that a law enforcement officer could gain access to every single text, email, photograph and voice mail on your smartphone, going back years, because you were suspected of criminal activity, would you change your behavior? Say less? Save less? As the law struggles to keep pace with rapid advancements in technology, the threat to individual privacy rights is rising just as quickly. More and more, law enforcement officers investigating criminal activity are securing warrants to search the smartphone contents of the targets of their criminal investigations. The justification for these searches is often if there is probable cause to believe that an individual is involved in criminal activity, it follows automatically that probable cause exists that the target’s smartphone is being used to facilitate that criminal activity--or at least communicate about it. And judges are approving search warrants in these cases, without any competent, specific evidence to establish that a particular smartphone is likely to contain evidence of a crime. This dangerous trend has yet to be checked under New Jersey law.Read More
As noted in an earlier post on this blog (click here), New Jersey recently enacted a statute that made driving with a suspended license an indictable offense in certain circumstances, requiring a mandatory minimum period of incarceration of at least 180 days in the county jail upon conviction.
As might be expected, attorneys representing defendants charged with this new offense have attempted to find ways for their clients to escape the mandatory six month jail sentence.Read More
The Monitor was recently contacted by the Asbury Park Press and asked to write a short article on the subject of whether New Jersey, like many other states, should have its Attorney General elected by the voters, or continue to be appointed by the Governor. Viewpoints on this subject were also sought from Peter J. Barnes III, a New Jersey State Senator, Amy H. Handlin, a member of the New Jersey State Assembly, and Dr. Heath A. Brown, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs at Seton Hall University. Our four articles were recently published in the Asbury Park Press and other Gannett-owned publications, and can be viewed by clicking here.Read More
Lawyers Be Careful: Representing a Prevailing Party in a Civil Rights Case does not Automatically Guarantee a Counsel Fee Award
My article describing recent trends in the award of attorneys' fees in civil rights case was published in the February, 2014 edition of New Jersey Lawyer Magazine. The lesson to be learned is that if an attorney expects to be paid for services at the end of a civil rights case, he or she better be pretty certain the fact finder can be convinced to award actual damages in an amount that will justify the full award of fees.Read More